The Dodgers had a bad night, resulting in their first two-game losing streak in almost two months and Hyun-Jin Ryu’s first loss in exactly two months. And at the risk of belaboring the point — but really, the point is kind of belaboring itself right now — Yasiel Puig had a really bad day.
A bad day at the plate, where he went 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts without, extending his current hitless streak to 11 consecutive at-bats and his quickly worsening slump to 5-for-30.
A bad day in the dugout, where he came dangerously close to getting himself tossed from the game after striking out on three pitches in the fifth inning — this after he had swung and missed at the first and third pitches, both of which were outside the strike zone, because he was still miffed at plate umpire John Hirschbeck for calling a borderline strike two. In order to calm Puig down, teammates Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe had to escort him up the tunnel toward the clubhouse.
A bad day in the clubhouse, where before the game, Puig uttered something, loudly, in Spanish that expressed his antipathy toward the media and included some kind of profanity. His anger apparently stemmed from the fact that after he and teammates Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford partied into the wee hours of the morning in South Beach, reportedly with NBA superstar LeBron James, the tabloid media outlet TMZ had the utter audacity to actual report it.
But none of that was the worst part for Puig.
The worst part for Puig was that this was his first game in Miami since coming to the big leagues, a date he probably, and quite understandably, had been looking forward to since the moment he got to the big leagues. It was played in front of friends and family members. And the opposing starter was his countryman and possibly his lone competition for the National League’s Rookie of the Year award, Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez.
And Fernandez got the better of Puig. Boy, did he ever.
Looking like he wanted to hit a five-run homer on every pitch he saw, Puig instead hit a high, pop foul to the shortstop in the first, grounded out to shortstop in the third and struck out in the fifth, the aforementioned at-bat in which he walked away from the plate barking at Hirschbeck while Hirschbeck pointed his index finger at Puig while apparently telling him to pipe down or else.
Finally, for good measure, Puig struck out again in the seventh against A.J. Ramos, again on three pitches and ending the at-bat by chasing one well out of the strike zone. Puig later flied to center to end the game.
It was always going to be an emotional day for Puig. But it wasn’t supposed to be a day in which his emotions got the better of him. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked after Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia whether Puig’s fundamental lapses on the bases and in the field and the fact he had been talked to repeatedly about them but still didn’t seem to be getting the message might mean it was time to let Puig sit for a game or two. Mattingly said, simply, “No.” But given the display Puig put on today, that time may have come now. We’ll see.
In fairness, the loss itself can’t be pinned on Puig, not in any way. The Dodgers lost because Ryu wasn’t at his best, giving up two runs in the third inning after there were outs and nobody on, a rally that began when Ryu gave up a two-out single to opposing pitcher Fernandez — who may have WON the N.L. ROY award tonight with the way he essentially toyed with Puig.
But mostly, the Dodgers lost because Fernandez, who became old enough to legally order a beer just three weeks ago, continued to dazzle as he has done all year, especially at home, where he is now 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA.
Any hope of another stirring comeback by the Dodgers ended in the eighth inning, when their usually reliable bullpen suffered a sudden meltdown, giving up three runs. The Dodgers fell to 72-52, but maintained their division lead at 7 1/2 games and shaved their magic number to 32 when Arizona lost at Cincinnati.